Rockford chancery hearing stirs debate for possible landmark status

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - The chancery building that once played a vital role in the Rockford Catholic community could become a historic landmark, along with two other buildings. 23 News was at a hearing Tuesday night where members of the Catholic Diocese and Friends of Ziock gave their arguments both for and against the chancery becoming a landmark.

Dozens spoke their minds to the Historic Preservation Commission as they consider an application for landmark status for the chancery, Cathedral of St. Peter School and another vacant school building. The hearing started with arguments in favor of making the chancery building a historic landmark, stating that the chancery building is an architectural treasure and part of Rockford’s history. Whereas members supporting the Diocese believe that repairs to fix these buildings that have been vacant for more than ten years could cost millions of dollars and space could be much more useful without the buildings.

"Our view is that we can provide a new and outdoor arena for people to be able to walk through and worship, to say the rosemary to attend Marian type of celebrations on mother days or at other times,"

"I see so many positive things happening I just ask why is the church fighting this when I feel an obligation as a church member as a Catholic that we should be partnering with the community and I feel hurt when the church I belong to doesn't want to be a member," said Patrick Winn, Director, Rockford Diocese.

"I see so many positive things happening I just ask why is the church fighting this when I feel an obligation as a church member as a Catholic that we should be partnering with the community and I feel hurt when the church I belong to doesn't want to be a member," said Former Rockford Mayor, Larry Morrissey.

The Diocese also argued that it is against their First Amendment right to make them follow specific laws that could get in the way of their religious rights. The city disagrees saying there is no legal basis exempting churches from becoming historic landmark designations.

The Historic Preservation Commission will meet again on Thursday, February 28th to vote on adding the historic landmark and if it passes it will be voted on by Rockford City Council.